Christmas Mission

During Advent our office runs several Christmas outreach events and help Parishes with Christmas missions. Part of the Parish Mission is Christmas Carolling. This involves requesting permission from a local shopping centre; this act is usually welcomed by the shopping centre management as it adds to the Christmas spirit. A small team of parishioners and visiting missionaries sing carols and hand out small gifts to passers-by, the gift is usually small, individually-wrapped candy canes with a Christmas scripture and a greeting from the parish attached by red ribbon. Parishioners also hand out are flyers with the details for parish Christmas events. These details include Mass times, Reconciliation times, carols, other celebrations, etc. The team is also prepared to speak to anyone who wishes to and even to pray with them on the spot! Usually we will have a box for prayer petitions and a big sign letting people know they can write their prayers. If the shopping centre is amenable, we set up a table with some other giveaways, i.e. Lighthouse media CDs, rosary beads, miraculous medals, holy cards, prayer leaflets, etc.

CREDO also helps parishes to produce “Come Home for Christmas” invitation flyers that can be letterbox-dropped around the neighbourhood. There has been feedback where people have told the priest that they came because of the invitation. Of-course the secret is to ensure that any visitors receive a good welcome should they choose to come!

On the 3 or 4 nights leading up to Christmas CREDO also hosts an outreach at the Cathedral. Volunteers go out into the square in front of the Cathedral (where many have gathered to watch the laser light show on the facade of the Cathedral) and invite people to come into the Cathedral afterwards and light a candle and say a prayer. The volunteers have prayer cards to help guide the adults and prayer cards for the children. They also have a postcard with Christmas pictures of the Cathedral on it. It says “I lit a candle for you” on the front and continues on the back with “..and said a prayer” and includes a Christmas Scripture quotation.  This is also offered to any who would like it and is very popular with tourists and those with family far away. Other volunteers are stationed at the doors of the Cathedral to welcome those who come in and give them the directions that they need. Inside the Cathedral a further group of volunteers pray and sing in Adoration. Confession is also made available and many take up the opportunity.

It is clear that for many who come in to the Cathedral, this is the one and only time they will visit a church during Christmas. It is surprising how many choose to sit and pray for a while. The welcomers get a lot of thank yous from people as they leave. Sometimes the visitors feel the need to tell the welcomers who they prayed for and this can be an opportunity to engage in a deeper encounter. It would be interesting to explore creative ways for parishes to do something similar.